In Mainz, an event reflecting the art of printing in a colourful kaleidoscope has been firmly established. Every two years "Gutenberg City" becomes the meeting-place for minipress operators, small publishing firms, hand-press printers, book artists and authors for four days. The Mainzer Minipressen-Messe has developed from modest beginnings to become an international book fair for small publishers and artistic hand press operators. This is also a sales fair with an extensive accompanying program in which incompatible opposites are presented. Press printers on the one hand and magazine makers on the other, artists here and eccentrics there. The atmosphere changes from one fair to the next due to a varying mix of people. This makes it very lively.
Victor Otto Stomps first had the idea for such a book fair in 1953. Himself being the owner of publishing firms called "Rabenpresse", "Eremitenpresse" and "Neue Rabenpresse"; today he is still a role model for those who seek talents worth supporting off the beaten path. They create book art, which allows us to hope that they will survive for a long time. However, Stomps never pursued the idea of a book fair any further, not until ten years later did the editor of Kyklos-Presse take up this project. In 1963, he launched the Frankfurt-based "Whitsun Literary Fair". For the first time, publications by underdogs, outsides, loners and printers of their own books were presented to a broader public. The second fair followed in 1964, and the third fair was held in 1968. This fair was supposed to "document the current, literary, artistic and political trends of the present". The third of these fairs in 1968 was the last, however. Even though it was very successful, there were no further events in Frankfurt.
Norbert Kubatzki, whose nickname is "Kuba", a small publisher from Mainz, was less interested in the selection of books when he took over the idea for a fair for small publishers in 1970 and launched the fair in the form of the Mainzer Minipressen-Messe. Ninety exhibitors displayed their wares and about 9000 visitors attended this fair. Since that time, a growing number of exhibitors has been coming to Mainz, the "Gutenberg City", every two years in order to present their versions of good books and printed works.
Over the years, much has changed and grown. One principle has remained; namely that this is "a book fair without censorship… ". Every small publisher can participate. However much the exhibitors vary with respect to their products, they all have one thing in common: they engage in publishing activities not because of any possible business success (even if this is very welcome), but from passion, pleasure and conviction, and with daring and the desire to experiment.
Meanwhile, the Mainzer Minipressen-Messe, with nearly 260 exhibiting small publishers and an average of 10,000 visitors, has become the largest book fair for small publishers and artistic hand press operators in Europe. It has thus become the marketplace for the latest ideas and trends in the printing and publishing of literature and art.
On the occasion of the MMPM, the City of Mainz has awarded an eponymous prize to honor V.O. Stomps since 1979, namely a prize for "outstanding achievements by small publishers"; since 1987 there have been two prizes in the areas of hand presses / the publishing of books and/or magazines. This is the only prize promoting small publishers in Germany.